Texas Historic Commission
FORT SMITH - SANTA FE TRAIL
What came to be known
as the Fort Smith - Santa Fe Trail was first blazed in 1840 by Josiah Gregg, a trader seeking a route
to Santa Fe along the south side of the Canadian River. In 1849, gregg's route was closely followed
by a military escort led by Capt. Randolph B. Marcy (1812-1857), Marcy's group traveled from Fort Smith,
Arkansas to Santa Fe with about 500 pioneers heading for California. The party entered Oldham County
on June 13th, and on June 145h ascended to the Llano Estacado near this site. Reaching the top Marcy
found the plains "as boundless...and trackless as the ocean...a desolate waste of uninhabited solitude."
days after leaving Fort Smith, the party reached Santa Fe. After passing the plains, Marcy remarked,
"I haved never passed a country where wagons could move along with as much ease and facility, without
expenditure of any labor in making a road, as upon this route." Marcy advocated the trail as a prospective
route for a transcontinental railroad, which was built after the Civil War. Later, as the country entered
the automobile age and the interstate highway system was developed, U.S. Highway 66 (Route 66) and Interstate
40 were laid close to the trail.